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Celebration of life service held for Sarah Martinsen

Students, family, faculty, staff and administration gathered in the Memorial Union Plains Room on March 22 in remembrance of Sarah Martinsen.

Martinsen, a junior majoring in sociology, was killed when a motorist’s car struck her March 16 while jogging in Pensacola, Fla.

A native of Minot, N.D., Martinsen was in Florida as part of a “Pay It Forward” service trip involving the NDSU chapter of Students Today Leaders Forever. The group, which included 40 members from NDSU and two from Minnesota State University Moorhead, was at a stop on a six-city tour. During the trips, students participate in service and leadership activities, learn about social issues, build relationships and make a commitment to continued action when they return home.

People who knew Martinsen her whole life and those who knew her for only a few days spoke during the “celebration of life” service. They shared inspirational and light-hearted stories of their experiences with Martinsen.

“Sarah’s message of serving over her spring break is a message to all of us. She died while giving back,” said Greg Tehven, co-founder of Students Today Leaders Forever. 

“I can feel everyone’s arms around me and I really appreciate that,” said Galit DeWitz, Martinsen’s sister. “There are so many people here and I’m so excited that everyone realized how amazing Sarah was.”

Debra DeWitz, Martinsen’s mother, thanked everyone for the support the family received. “Families couldn’t get through a time like this without knowing that other people are going to continue to celebrate someone’s life that we lost,” she said. She asked everyone to keep the driver of the vehicle in their prayers. She thanked the service group for helping make Martinsen’s last week one of the best of her life.

Martinsen, 21, was membership chair of the Phi Eta Sigma national honor society and a member of the NDSU Sociology Club. She was the daughter of Wayne Martinsen and Debra DeWitz, both from Minot.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Sarah Martinsen Memorial Scholarship, through the NDSU Development Foundation.


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University Relations
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-8326 - Fax: (701) 231-8969
Campus address: Old Main 204
Mailing address: Dept 6000 PO Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050
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Last Updated: Sunday, August 25, 2013